Last night, the Kansas City Royals defended their World Series crown against the New York Mets in a 4-3 game, officially launching the Major League Baseball season. As the 162-game campaign begins, fans round the world will begin to adjust their meals to match up with those iconic baseball foods like hot dogs and cracker jacks. Last year, we spent some time searching for produce in stadiums. We even found some! (Even if it wasn't with concession vendors). This year, we'll spend some time looking at the incredible and over-the-top fare available at some parks around the country.
In 2016, the trends seem to focus on creating larger-than-life versions of regional and historical favorites. Hot dogs, cracker jacks, pizza and burgers are being redesigned into enormous specialties, and it makes sense: HDTV changed the way people watch games. To keep fans in seats, stadiums need to step up the "spectacle" aspect of attending a game, and that's the perfect word: some of these meals are show-stoppers.
Speaking of the defending National League champions, the New York Mets seemed to harness their renewed notoriety on the national scene by enlisting celebrity help: Momofuku's David Chang, Milk Bar's baking guru Christina Tosi and "Magician of Meat" Pat LaFrieda all helped craft a spicy fried chicken sandwich, a pizzaiolo hero and filet mignon sandwich. When it comes to the NL East, however, the Atlanta Braves may hold the crown: the club plans to offer the "Burgerizza" at all home games, a 20-oz. beef patty complete with five slices of cheddar cheese and bacon. The bun, you ask? Two 8-inch pepperoni pizzas.
The New York Yankees had to postpone their home opener due to snow, rain and all other sorts of precipitation, delaying fans' chance to try their Tape Measure Cheesesteak, a two-foot sandwich topped with shredded beef and Cheez Whiz. The Yankees will also feature artisan grilled cheese sandwiches created at the Big Cheese, a gourmet stand. Division rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays, will to top their culinary adversaries with a Buffalo Cauliflower poutine.
This year's craziest food award probably deserves to be with the Pittsburgh Pirates: the Cracker Jack & Mac Dog is a belly-buster that marries a foot-long all-beef hot dog, macaroni and cheese, salted caramel sauce, deep-fried pickled jalapeños all wrapped in naan, with a side of Cracker Jacks. That's not the only dog on the menu, though: the Arizona Diamondbacks are back at it with the Cheeseburger Dog. At $10, the product is essentially a giant hot dog made from a cheeseburger. That's deep fried. And then topped with chopped bacon, lettuce, tomato and a secret sauce. The defending champions are also making a run to fan's stomachs with the Champions Alley Dog, a bacon-wrapped, tempura-battered hot dog topped with sweet slaw and chipotle ketchup.
Not every team is staying with the classics, though: the Boston Red Sox will offer a Savenor's Steak Tip Sandwich, featuring marinated steak tips with cheese and BBQ sauce on a crusty roll. The Houston Astros will offer Irish Nachos, a dish of kettle chips covered with jalapeño queso, roasted tomatoes and the usual nacho toppings. Baseball may be America's past time, but that doesn't mean the cuisine needs to stay in the past.
The beginning of spring, the sounds of summer, the chase of the pennant into the fall: the opening of the baseball season is just the impetus for a number of great American traditions. What stadiums do you plan on visiting this year, and more importantly, what will you eat?